Since taking on the job of national team coach, Ange Postecoglou’s ambition for the Socceroos has been to make an impact at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. And together with the team, they will get the opportunity for a dress rehearsal over the coming fortnight when they participate in FIFA’s Confederations Cup tournament.
Currently on their first ever visit to Russia, it will be a valuable opportunity for the Socceroos to familiarise themselves with the country, facilities, conditions, and the culture as well, as experiencing tournament conditions ahead of the main event in 12 months should they qualify.
For the Socceroos boss, the tournament is an opportunity to prepare his squad for their final two World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Thailand by playing meaningful competition matches against three higher-ranking teams: Germany, Cameroon, and Chile.
A good performance for the Socceroos in the Confederations Cup tournament would see them in good form and added confidence going into the match against the Blue Samurai on Japanese soil. But the tournament will also be a good gauge on how far the team have come towards achieving Postecoglou’s ambition of progressing deeply into an international tournament.
“It’s a competition and we want to do well in the competition . . . make sure we make a good account of ourselves and get as far in the tournament as we possibly can,” Postecoglou told reporters before departing for Russia.
“That’ll help us with qualification as well, because if you can continue to evolve and do it against the best in the world then you’ve got more chance of being competitive and making an impact at a World Cup.
“The first game is obviously critical. If we get a result against Germany then it’s that kind of competition that you’ve got a chance.”
So far we’ve been used to seeing a proactive style of football from the Socceroos in their World Cup Qualifying matches against Asian opponents, and often dominating possession. They weren’t able to do that against the Brazilians at the MCG on Tuesday night however, when fans watched their home team in an unaccustomed role against an opponent which dominated and controlled the game. In fairness, Australia was without its two best players Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic, and was also on the back-foot from the start gifting the Brazilians a goal in the opening minute.
It will be a real challenge for the Socceroos to see if they can progress from a group of higher ranked nations, in which Germany and Chile are the favourites to progress.
FIFA World Ranking: 3rd (Current World Cup Champions)
Coach: Joachim Low
Coach Low has named a young squad, relatively inexperienced at this level, preferring to rest stars such as Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, and also leave many talented youngsters such as Serge Gnabry to play in the FIFA U21 World Cup tournament taking place in Poland at virtually the same time.
Despite this, the German squad includes impressive talent from the upper echelons of the EPL such as Man City’s Leroy Sane, Liverpool’s Emre Can, and Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi, in addition to PSG’s Julian Draxler and a host of others from the Bundesliga.
Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (PSG)
Defenders: Matthias Ginter (Borussia Dortmund), Jonas Hector (1.FC Köln), Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer Leverkusen), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern), Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Rüdiger (Roma), Niklas Süle (Hoffenheim)
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (PSG), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Kerem Demirbay (Hoffenheim), Lars Stindl (Borussia Monchengladbach), Emre Can (Liverpool), Amin Younes (Ajax), Leroy Sane (Manchester City), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim), Diego Demme (Leipzig),
Forwards: Sandro Wagner (Hoffenheim), Timo Werner (Leipzig).
FIFA World Ranking: 4th
Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi
Current holders of Copa America, which they won for the first time in 2015, Chile goes to their first ever Confederations tournament as the tournament favourites. In contrast to the slightly higher-ranked Germans they take a near full strength squad with almost all of their golden generation of stars (together with younger Chilean-based players), knowing that this and next year’s World Cup will probably be the last time this group of players can leave their mark on the international stage.
Stars include Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Bravo and Marcelo Diaz.
Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Manchester City), Christopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile)
Defenders: Eugenio Mena (Sport Recife), Enzo Roco (Cruz Azul), Mauricio Isla (Cagliari), Paulo Diaz (San Lorenzo), Jean Beausejour (Universidad de Chile), Gary Medel (Inter), Gonzalo Jara (Universidad de Chile)
Midfielders: Francisco Silva (Cruz Azul), Jose Fuenzalida (Universidad Catolica), Arturo Vidal (Bayern München), Pablo Hernandez (Celta Vigo), Felipe Gutierrez (Internacional), Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), Marcelo Diaz (Celta Vigo)
Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Angelo Sagal (Huachipato), Eduardo Vargas (Tigres UANL), Martin Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Leonardo Valencia (Palestino), Edson Punch (Necaxa)
FIFA World ranking: 32nd
Coach: Hugo Broos ( Belgian)
Belgian coach Hugo Broos has built a young and exciting, if relatively unknown, squad of players who triumphed in the African Nations Cup earlier this year. Much of the squad also plies their trade in the European leagues including a couple who play in the Greek Super League such as Panionios defender Jerome Guihota and Panathinaikos forward Olivier Boumal. Their best known players are forwards Vincent Aboubakar (Besiktas) and Chrisian Bassogog, as well as Ajax keeper Andre Onana.
Goalkeepers: Joseph Ondoa (Sevilla), Georges Bokwe (Mjondalen), Andre Onana (Ajax)
Defenders: Ernest Mabouka (MSK Zilina), Adolphe Teikeu (Sochaux), Michael Ngadeu (Slavia Prague), Ambroise Oyongo (Impact Montreal), Jerome Guihoata (Panionios), Collins Fai (Standard Liege), Lucien Owona (Alcorcon), Jonathan Ngwem (Sambizanga)
Midfielders: Andre Zambo Anguissa (Marseille), Georges Mandjeck (FC Metz), Sebastien Siani (Oostende), Arnaud Djoum (Hearts)
Forwards: Nicolas Ngamaleu (Rheindof), Benjamin Moukandjo (Lorient), Jacques Zoua (Kaiserslautern), Vincent Aboubakar (Beşiktaş), Olivier Boumal (Panathinaikos), Christian Bassogog (Henan Jianye), Robert Tambe Ndip (Spartak Trnava), Karl Toko (Angers)
Australia’s Confederation Cup Group Stage Schedule:
· Australia V Germany
Tuesday 20 June 1.00 am
· Australia V Cameroon
Friday 23 June 1.00 am
· Australia V Chile
Monday 26 June 1.00 am
* All times are Australian Eastern Standard Time.